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Seven senators have come together to form the African Canadian Senate Group to tackle issues such as criminal justice, economic fairness, social issues and understanding how different demographics are affected by legislation.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Seven senators have come together to form the African Canadian Senate Group, working to fight racism and discrimination and help amplify voices of underrepresented Canadians by pressing to include them in the legislative process.

Ontario Senator Rosemary Moodie, the group’s chair, said that although African Canadian senators have been working on these issues for many years, they feel more empowered by having a formalized group.

“We believe we can give a bigger voice to African Canadians,” Ms. Moodie said.

The group is made up of members from both the Independent Senators Group and the Progressive Senate Group.

Ms. Moodie said she would like to see more African Canadian witnesses invited to testify before committees in the Senate. After serving in the Senate for a few years, she said it’s become clear that they are underrepresented in the committee process.

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Other priorities of the group include tackling areas such as criminal justice, economic fairness, social issues and understanding how different demographics are affected by legislation.

“There is limited collection of disaggregated data and without it we are operating blind in terms of how we move legislation. We want to continue to press for that data in our deliberations and … push our public institutions to collect it so that we can better inform what we do.”

The African Canadian Senate Group has connected with students, Black artists and authors and other African Canadian communities to discuss ways they can help improve representation and recognize their contributions to Canada, according to a statement issued by the group this past week.

Other senators in the group include Nova Scotia Senator Wanda Bernard, Ontario Senator Bernadette Clement, Quebec Senator Amina Gerba, B.C. Senator Mobina Jaffer, Quebec Senator Marie-Françoise Mégie and Newfoundland and Labrador Senator Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia.

Ms. Clement, who was appointed to the Senate in June, said she feels that senators need to engage more with the public.

Ms. Clement said she was the first Black woman mayor in Ontario and the first woman mayor of Cornwall and when she left that position, people in her community were asking her: “Can we engage with you there? How do we engage with Senators?”

“When I spoke to Black people in my region here in Eastern Ontario, they were surprised about this caucus,” she said.

The African Canadian Senate Group will continue working with the Parliamentary Black Caucus and the Canadian Congress of Black Parliamentarians. But Ms. Clement said senators have their own work to do, in terms of committee work and engaging with Canadians.

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